Chris Montana from Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis aims to raise $1 million to help local businesses.
chris montana du nord craft spirits
Credit: Facebook / Du Nord Craft Spirits

There’s no denying that 2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, with the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the protests around the country that subsequently followed. But there’s one Minnesota-based distillery owner who has been helping his community through it all.

Chris Montana, owner of Du Nord Craft Spirits in Minneapolis (and the first Black distillery owner in the U.S.), helped launch “All Hands” hand sanitizer at the end of March to help fight the spread of COVID-19. With the proceeds from sales of the sanitizer, he and his team of other distillers and grocery partners were able to donate 1 million meals in just a month to Second Harvest Heartland.

As Minneapolis was still trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died at the hands of local police. Thousands of people in the community—and beyond—began protesting, calling for action and demanding systemic reform. 

While most of the protests were peaceful, Montana said in an Instagram post that his distillery was set on fire and sustained substantial damage.

While frustrated that his business was destroyed, Montana said in an interview on his Instagram page, “At the end of the day, this is just a building and the stuff in it is just stuff.” In the interview, he also mentioned that most major grocery stores in the area were damaged during the protests, so those who lack transportation or the financial means to go to other grocery stores may not have immediate access to food. 

To help those in his community, Montana set up a food bank at his distillery to serve those in the community who lost access to food due to damage to businesses. However, he had to recently shut it down to fix the damage in his building. 

Montana has started a GoFundMe page and aims to raise $1 million for those affected by the damage—including people without access to food and businesses in the Minneapolis area that may lack funding to rebuild. The description says, “Following the beautiful peaceful protests, riots overtook the city and the Lake Street Corridor: a beacon for multiculturalism, black and brown entrepreneurship and the rise of family-owned businesses. Much is lost. We have received a tidal wave of love and support from across the nation and many have asked how they can help. Thanks to the support we have received and an impending insurance claim, we feel funds would be better directed to our sister businesses in distress. Therefore, Du Nord is establishing this fund to support black and brown companies affected by the riots. In the coming days we will add to the leadership team to bring in more business owners and community leaders. We are dedicated to rebuilding Minneapolis in a way that ensures our cultural beacons are restored.”

If you’re able to donate, you can head to Montana’s GoFundMe page here.